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What Is a Second Cousin Twice Removed - This Chart Explains It All

Updated on April 20, 2016

Family Reunion

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Degrees of Family Relationships

Family relationships are interesting enough, but when we get into figuring out second and third cousins, it gets really confusing. And what does “twice removed” mean anyway? I admit that I always thought my first cousin’s children were my second cousins, but this is not the case. Second cousins are more distantly related. The chart below straightens out all the confusion.

The numbers in the small red rectangles show what percentage the person is blood-related to you. For example, you are related to your father by 50%, while you and your first cousins are only related by 12.5%.

Family Relationship Chart

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First Cousins, Second Cousins

Your first cousins are the children of your aunts and uncles, or put another way, the nieces and nephews of your parents. That is pretty easy to figure out. You share the same grandparents with all of your first cousins. It gets trickier with second and third cousins.

Second cousins are the children of your parents’ first cousins, and share the same great-grandparents as you. Their grandparents are your grandaunt and uncle. Third cousins are the children of your parents’ second cousins. Third cousins are pretty distant, but you share the same great-great-grandparents. Your second cousins are related to you by 3.125%, while third cousins are related to you by only .781%

Family Relationship Quiz


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Once Removed, Twice Removed

When speaking of family relationships, the phrase "once removed" means one generation up or down from you. Your first cousin’s child is your first cousin once removed, and your mother’s first cousins are also your first cousins once removed. Whether your first cousin once removed is in the generation above you or after you, you are related to him by 6.25%.

"Twice removed" is used for a relationship with a person two generations ahead or behind you. Your first cousin's grandchildren will be your first cousins twice removed. Looking back up the chart, you also have first cousins twice removed who are the first cousins of your grandparents. You are related to all of your first cousins twice removed by 3.125%, which happens to be how closely related you are to your second cousins. So, these groups of cousins are just as closely related, but in different ways.

Greats and Grands, Nieces and Nephews

Grandparents and great-grandparents are very commonly used titles for the parents and grandparents of our parents. In my family, though, we never refer to grand aunts or uncles, but simply call them great aunts and uncles. Technically, though, your parents' aunts and uncles are your grand aunts and uncles. The aunts and uncles of your grandparents would be your great-grand aunts and uncles.

If your nephew had a child, it would be common for you to say “my nephew’s child.” That would be correct, but the child is also referred to as your grandnephew. Your grandnephew’s child would be your great-grandnephew, so the pattern is identical to that of grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Consanguinity

The family relationship diagram in this article is based on consanguinity, or how people are related by blood. There are factors such as divorce, half-siblings, and so on that might complicate the chart, especially with the blood relation percentages. Even so, the chart serves as a good base to determine the correct titles of all your cousins, nieces, nephews, and grands.

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    • ancestralstory profile image

      ancestralstory 5 years ago from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

      A well written explanation - the diagram helps a lot as well! In family history research many can be confused by degrees of relationship to cousins - thanks for writing this great hub.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 5 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Thanks for straightening this matter out. Cool Hub!Consanguinity is now added to my ever growing vocabulary!

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image
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      Sarah Johnson 5 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Thanks, ancestralstory! I hear many people say "we are cousins - somehow or somewhere down the line." The chart does make it easier to figure it out.

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image
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      Sarah Johnson 5 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Thanks, Rebecca! Consanguinity was a new word for me, too. I can see the root words "with" and "blood" in there, so hopefully, I can remember this one.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Wow, this is a great hub topic and so well covered. Your chart is a good visual to the content. I don't know how many of my cousins fit into this category but it will be interesting to find out.

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image
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      Sarah Johnson 5 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Thanks, teaches12345. I thought the chart was useful, too, even for the person not looking up family tree/genealogy - but just to figure out titles of relatives closer in. Especially all those cousins!

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      MizBejabbers 5 years ago

      The chart makes complicated relationships so much easier to see. After seeing the blood-kin relationship percentages, now I understand why royalty (and some southern plantation owners) thought nothing of marrying their cousins to keep their titles or property in the family. Thanks for a good hub.

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image
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      Sarah Johnson 5 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Thanks, MizBejabbers. It is also interesting to see the famous people in history who married their cousins: FDR, Thomas Jefferson, Bach, Einstein, and even Rudy Giuliani!

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      kelleyward 5 years ago

      Chaplin Speaks! thanks for teaching me something new today! I loved your chart as well! I'm a visual person so it helps me to see the relationships in print! Voted up and shared! Take care, Kelley

    • emilybee profile image

      emilybee 5 years ago

      This topic can get way too confusing for me, so thanks for explaining it well, and the chart helps, too :) I have to literally think about this stuff for awhile and map out, it gets complicated!! I'm sure I call most of my family members the wrong term, cousin, aunt, oh well it's all in the family ;-)

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image
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      Sarah Johnson 5 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Thanks, Kelley and Emily. I think the chart is key to keeping up with the family relations. I mentioned Rudy Giuliani in another comment - he married his cousin thinking it was his 3rd cousin. Found out later that it was his 2nd cousin. I would probably make sure before I got married!

    • Maralexa profile image

      Marilyn Alexander 5 years ago from Vancouver, Canada and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico

      This is an amazing article. I could not possibly follow you without your excellent chart. I worked through your chart from my perspective and then from the perspective of who I thought was my 3rd cousin. Wrong. He is my 1st cousin twice removed!!

      PS. my last name used to be Chaplin - are we related? ;)

    • profile image

      Wilbart26 5 years ago

      Another family hub hehe, however, it confuses me a bit when I first saw the title, but when I read all of it, I became enlightened. Thanks for the sharing. Have a great day!

    • Trish_M profile image

      Tricia Mason 5 years ago from The English Midlands

      Hi

      Very-well explained.

      I'm sure that this will help a lot of people :)

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image
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      Sarah Johnson 5 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Hi, Maralexa

      Not sure how I misssed your comment before now! I wonder if we are related somewhere down the line. Chaplin is a last name in my family that goes back a good ways here in SC. I bet if we traced our family trees back far enough, we would find a link, cousin.

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image
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      Sarah Johnson 5 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Hello, Wilbart

      Sorry the title confused but glad you finished enlightened. Thanks for stopping by and welcome to Hub Pages!

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image
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      Sarah Johnson 5 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Thanks, Trish. I hope this chart and hub clears up some of the confusing cousin realtionships for others.

    • Daughter Of Maat profile image

      Melissa Flagg 5 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      I had no idea what that meant, but I always heard "he's my cousin twice removed" in old films. NOW it makes sense! lol

      Fantastic hub!

    • Tom Koecke profile image

      Tom Koecke 5 years ago from Tacoma, Washington

      This hub taught me enough to get half the questions correct in the quiz! There is no way I would have scored so well before reading it!

      Great hub. It deserves to be ranked highly in Google searches!

    • DeanCash profile image

      DeanCash 5 years ago

      Good info. Now I know, I will share this one.

    • AnnCee profile image

      AnnCee 5 years ago from United States

      Thank YOU! Been needing to know. Will be attending a family reunion with people whose tree and mine coincide 4 generations back.

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image
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      Sarah Johnson 5 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Thanks, Daughter of Maat. I never used the "once or twice removed" because I had no idea what it meant. The chart really helps.

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image
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      Sarah Johnson 5 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Thanks, Tom, for the vote of confidence! I learned a lot, too, mainly from the chart.

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image
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      Sarah Johnson 5 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Hi, Dean. Thanks for stopping by and for sharing with others.

      Ann, that sounds really neat about the family reunion. You may need to expand the chart a bit and carry it around to figure out how you are related to everyone there!

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      kae15812 5 years ago

      What would my moms first cousins nephew be to me?

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image
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      Sarah Johnson 5 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Hi, kae15812. I believe that would be your second cousin, the same relation as the children of your first cousin once removed. The nephew's parent would also be your mom's first cousin.

    • vox vocis profile image

      Jasmine 5 years ago

      I scored 50% on the quiz. Obviously, I've got some more learning to do! Great job with the hub, but the quiz idea is awesome! Also, the three historical figures who all married their cousins - wow! I know I guy whose parents are first cousins (children of two sisters - in their culture, and I'll leave out the name of the nation - it's normal to marry cousins. I mean, even now in the 21st century and with more than 7.5 billion people in the world!!!)

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image
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      Sarah Johnson 5 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Hi, vox vocis. Yes, that does seem odd to me, but probably very normal for their culture, as you said. Keep that chart handy and you will ace the quiz and any cousin question someone throws at you!

    • vox vocis profile image

      Jasmine 5 years ago

      You're right about that, no doubt! Thanks :)

    • Your Cousins profile image

      Your Cousins 5 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      A cousin recently moved to my city and her father was my grandmother's brother. Which cousin is she to me?

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image
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      Sarah Johnson 5 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Hi, Your Cousins. I believe she would be your first cousin once removed, but double check me on the chart. Welcome to HubPages!

    • T4an profile image

      T4an 5 years ago from Toronto, Ontario

      Thank you so much for clearing this up for me. I always thought my cousin's children were my 2nd cousins. Great hub. Voted up!

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image
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      Sarah Johnson 5 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Hi, T4an. I thought the same thing, too. The "once removed" part always sounded weird to me, but there you have it.

    • Your Cousins profile image

      Your Cousins 5 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      O.K. and thanks!

    • Purple Jubilee profile image

      Purple Jubilee 4 years ago from Kent, UK

      Thank you for explaining this so clearly and I am relieved to see that your explanation is the same as my understanding. My family has had endless discussions/arguments with my aunt as to whether my children and her grandchildren are second cousins - she insists they are not related - despite sharing great grandparents! I will have to direct her to your hub (whilst hiding this comment!)

    • profile image

      Cousins 4 years ago

      If my great great grandparents are someones great great great grandparents what does that make us?

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image
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      Sarah Johnson 4 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Hi, Cousins. Well, you could be parent and child!

    • kittykfree profile image

      Kitty K. Free 4 years ago

      This is a great, entertaining and informative hub. I'm tracking my family members in my mind as I'm reading. This is really cool. Thanks for sharing.

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image
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      Sarah Johnson 4 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Hi, kittykfree. I think this cousins chart will come in handy for large family gatherings this Thanksgiving!

    • profile image

      Lawrence 4 years ago

      I and my cousin do not share the grand dad. Do we still fall under the first hand cousins?

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image
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      Sarah Johnson 4 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Hi, Lawrence. Yes, it can get complicated with 2nd marriages, blended families, step and half relations. If you share the same grandmother, then you are still first cousins. You just are not related quite as closely by blood. "Half first cousins" sounds odd to me - I would just say 1st cousins! Do you agree?

    • carlajbehr profile image

      Carla J Behr 4 years ago from NW PA

      This is very interesting - thanks for sharing

    • MPG Narratives profile image

      Marie Giunta 3 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      I grew up with lots of first cousins and always heard the terms, "once removed" and "twice removed". This hub explains it all so well. Voted up, useful and pinned.

    • profile image

      Lb 3 years ago

      My husband's first cousin married my first cousin. What does that make our children?

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image
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      Sarah Johnson 3 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Still second cousins, but then a closer blood percentage relation since coming from both sides. Interesting!

    • profile image

      RobinzNest 3 years ago

      Hi there!

      I found your article very interesting and the content of something I wanted to figure out for ages! (The once removed/twice removed bit.)

      If you could clarify and correct me if I'm wrong. A cousin of mine and I know that we are cousins but aren't sure if we are third cousins or how to name it. If our Grandparents are first cousins, what does that make us?

      Thank you for this article!

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image
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      Sarah Johnson 3 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Yes, RobinzNest, you two are third cousins! Another way to look at it is that your great-grandparents were siblings and you share the same great-great-grandparents.

    • profile image

      claire 3 years ago

      What is an uncle twice removed?

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image
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      Sarah Johnson 3 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      For uncles, you have great uncles, great great uncles, and then working down, you have nephews, and then grand nephews. So, the once and twice removed terminology is just for cousins.

      But, if you were to apply that concept to uncles, he would be your great grand uncle.

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      greeneyedblondie 3 years ago

      I understand the whole "once removed" thing now, but I think second cousins, third cousins, and so on, is easier to say.

    • triciapilates profile image

      triciapilates 2 years ago

      I have no aunts or uncles but my nan was from a family of thirteen children so relationships get confusing. Thank you for the chart, I can try to work it out now!

    • HeatherBlesh profile image

      Heather Gomez 2 years ago from Monterey, CA

      I have often wondered what second cousin twice removed, or first cousin once removed was. Now I know! Thank you for your hub!

    • Homeplace Series profile image

      William Leverne Smith 2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Very useful reference. Thanks for sharing! ;-)

    • Besarien profile image

      Besarien 2 years ago

      How embarrassing! I have been calling my first cousins once removed "second cousins" my whole life. Great hub with a lot of good information.

    • agaglia profile image

      agaglia 2 years ago

      great information. I have 48 first cousins - on my father's side, so a chart like this will be invaluable. I am also told that we are related to queen Victoria of England. Her mother and my great (several greats) grandmother were sisters. What does that make me? - some kind of shirttail, perhaps. :D thanks for the info.

    • profile image

      Richard Fletcher 2 years ago

      The text in the article says "Second cousins are the children of your parents’ first cousins, and share the same great-grandparents as you."

      The image shows seconds cousins that share the same great-great-grandparents as you as well as the same great-grandparents.

      Both cannot be right.

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image
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      Sarah Johnson 2 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      @ Richard Fletcher. Both are right! You and your second cousins share the same great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents.

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      Greenie52 11 months ago

      I am so new to all this. Please tell me what relationship would my grandmother's 2ond cousin 2x removed be to me? Thanks

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